Logical Form

In Ernest Lepore & Kirk Ludwig (eds.), A Companion to Donald Davidson (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy). Blackwell (2013)
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Donald Davidson contributed to the discussion of logical form in two ways. On the one hand, he made several influential suggestions on how to give the logical forms of certain constructions of natural language. His account of adverbial modification and so called action-sentences is nowadays, in some form or other, widely employed in linguistics (Harman (forthcoming) calls it "the standard view"). Davidson's approaches to indirect discourse and quotation, while not as influential, also still attract attention today. On the other hand, Davidson provided a general account of what logical form is. This paper is concerned with this general account. Its foremost aim is to give a faithful and detailed picture of what, according to Davidson, it means to give the logical form of a sentence. The structure of the paper is as follows. (1) I will first informally introduce a notion of logical form as the form that matters in certain kinds of entailments, and indicate why philosophers have taken an interest in such a notion. (2) The second section develops constraints that we should arguably abide by in giving an account of logical form. (3) I then turn to Davidson’s view of what is involved in giving such an account. To this end, I will try to reconstruct Davidson’s view of the connection between an assignment of logical forms, a truth theory and a meaning theory. (4) Finally, I will briefly discuss possible problems of Davidson’s account as developed in this paper.
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